Top line summary

  • 'Proud' of his players and paid tribute to the fans
  • Frustrated with penalties Celtic were awarded
  • Says Martin Boyle has a 'dead leg' from the challenge that was deemed a dive.
  • Confident team can build on this display.

Nick Montgomery spoke to the media after Hibs' 2-1 defeat to Celtic. Here's everything the manager had to say...

Was that an especially tough way to lose?

“It was a real disappointing way to lose the game. I thought we were more than worthy of three points tonight. We had some great chances. I was really proud of the boys’ effort. It’s been a tough six weeks, so we’re glad to have Martin Boyle and Lewis Miller back, that’s a massive positive. I thought the fans were outstanding and they deserved a victory tonight. To lose it as we did, there were plenty of incidents where the ref could have gone over to the VAR.

“I think we should have had a penalty on Martin Boyle. I think there’s a foul on Lewis Miller where, if he goes across to the VAR, it’s possibly a different colour card. But I thought the boys were outstanding, caused Celtic so many problems. We had real impact off the bench.

What was your take on the penalty incidents?

“Watching them back, this is my honest opinion, the first one Nectar is committed and has gone to win the header. There’s no malice in it whatsoever. It’s two boys going to win a header.

“If that happens anywhere else on the field, the game stops, the players get treatment – and it’s maybe a drop ball. But I haven’t watched that one back closely. The second one, I’ve watched it once. Maybe it’s outside of the box, Joe Newell pulls out … I just think that not one person in the stadium thought about asking for a penalty. But somebody has called the ref to have a look on VAR.

READ MORE: Hibs instant analysis as Celtic escape with late victory

“That’s the most frustrating thing, because if the ref had been called over a couple of other times, especially the Martin Boyle challenge, he would have had no option to give a penalty. It’s inconsistent. I know it’s not easy. It’s a tough gig. But to lose it like that, on that moment, when we were the team who looked more likely to win the game, it just rubs salt in the wound.

What is your understanding of when VAR should intervene?

“My understanding is that incidents like that are reviewed. If they think it’s worthy of the referee having a look, he’ll have a look and make his own decision.

“We’ve had so many incidents this season where we’ve looked back on the video, knowing that if the ref had been called, we would have had a penalty. But you don’t want the game stopped every time for every little incident in the box.

“That’s not what it’s there for. It’s there for big moments, where maybe the ref misses it. But it has to be consistent for both teams.”

What was your understanding of how the Boyle incident was looked at?

"It is not my understanding, I watch plenty of incidents and watching it back in slow motion he gets caught from behind on his quad and he has a dead leg. He is limping around in there. They are sore ones. It’s irrelevant how he goes down. He has been caught from behind and that has knocked him off balance and whether he goes down on one leg, two legs or head first if that is seen by VAR and the ref looks at it he has no option to give the penalty. Martin is nursing a dead leg and hopefully he is around for the weekend, but to get booked for it as well…again it is more disappointment.  

Did you speak to the referee afterwards?

"I didn’t speak to the referee. I shook his hand at the end of the game. It is irrelevant what I say to the referee. It is not going to change the result. But maybe he will go back and review the game and maybe be disappointed with some of the decisions he did and didn’t make."

Has Martin's reputation gone before him with that one?

"I am not going to answer that question. It is a penalty. If you are very quick and someone catches you it is easier to go down off balance, I remember the game when we beat Kilmarnock and he was whacked from behind and he carried on stumbling and we carried on and scored the goal. Martin is not someone who goes down. He is very quick. When he gets contact it is very hard to stay on your feet. I can’t agree with you."

Will that give the team confidence they can produce top performances against the top teams?

"I know the team can produce top performances. I have said for six weeks, it is not an excuse, I lost my first game v hearts at home here and we missed a penalty. We were probably the best team. We lost the game with the last kick of the game. We lost Josh Campbell to a long term injury to add to four or five. We lost four boys who were starting to international duty so that is half the starting team gone. It has been a challenging six weeks. When I look at what we have done – we have got to the next round of the cup, there have been some difficult results but five academy debuts. The squad has been stretched and it is nice to get some boys back from long term injury as well as seven players in and seven players out. Change is good but it is also hard. I scratch my head as to why we were so flat at the weekend, but there’s been a lot of change. Some boys came in one day before the windoe closed, only trained a few days.

“Integrating players straight away into the way you want to play is not easy. Young Nathan was outstanding tonight, his work rate and his effort with Joe and Dylan. We limited and frustrated them, and we had so many opportunities in the second-half to win it. It wasn’t to be. Celtic are a top team and Brendan is a top manager, but I think he’d have preferred to win the game in a better way than two penalties.

The fans appreciated that tonight despite the result...

“The fans have been amazing, I love the fans here. I understand them, I come from a working class background myself. They work all week and want to see their team put in effort and a performance. I’ve questioned that effort once this season, but I’ve explained the facts as to why.

“It’s something that we owned and accepted. Tonight, you saw the level of desire and commitment that I expect of everybody in that Hibs shirt. The fans and players deserved three points but it wasn’t to be. Now we prepare for a tough game at Inverness, it’s an opportunity for us put in another performance. I cannot question the boys’ commitment and effort, and tonight we were back to looking strong in our starting team and off the bench.

“We still have boys to come back – Rocky Bushiri, Chris Cadden, and maybe Jake Doyle-Hayes in a few weeks. Emiliano Marcondes took a bad knock at the weekend. I'm proud of the boys tonight, and we move on."